Wrapping up Course 4!

. (U.S. Navy photo by Candice Villarreal/Released)

. (U.S. Navy photo by Candice Villarreal/Released)

Can you believe it! We are approaching the end of Course 4! As you are all thinking about what you will be doing for your Course 5 final project I wanted to share my Course 5 final project… from way back in March 2012!

I know it can be tricky to nail down an idea. Remember this is not set in stone… if you change you mind that’s ok. That said we would rather you spend the time to create a kick butt UBD plan that you will be able to implement next semester. If that’s not possible we’ll go with what you can nail down at this point. Many of you will be working with others on this project and they might not be at a point where they are ready to commit time and resources yet. Just do your best!

If anyone is stuck and needs to talk through anything please shoot me an email and we can set up a time to chat.

I’m back into grading this weekend so look for feedback on your posts soon! Reading your posts and learning about what you are all up to in your classrooms is the most fun and inspiring part of my job!

Course 4 Week 4 Check-In



Hey all! I am having a blast reading your posts! I am super impressed with how well you are articulating your thoughts around the concepts we have been and are currently discussing. It’s also very motivating to see how you are all applying the content, concepts, tools, and skills we’ve covered in your classrooms!

We’ve had some issues with links breaking. Thanks to those who’ve given me a heads up on broken links. I’ve tried to fix the links that I know are broken as quickly as I can. Please let me know when you encounter any broken links and I will do my best to fix them in short order.

A coupe things:

  1. Please remember it’s good protocol to respond to comments left on your blog.
  2. I had a great conversation via Hangout with Online 6 participant Andrew Grover today. We talked through some general questions he had as well as questions specific to the final project. If you feel that a Hangout would be useful please shoot me a message and let’s set one up! I’m always happy to chat!
  3. Please leave a comment to this post with your current thoughts on your final project idea. If you don’t have a firm idea at this time that’s fine… just let us know some initial thoughts.

Course 4: Week 2 & Week 3

Howdy all! We are now into week 3! I hope you are all enjoying the content in Course 4. While I was working at the University of Kentucky over past couple years I learned a lot about, and worked with many schools who have or where implemented project based learning. I wanted to share a couple Hangouts I did with some folks where we discussed PBL and how best to implement it at your school. The first video is a Hangout I did with Randell Scherer a teacher who works at High Tech High in San Diego, California, USA.


The next video is a Hangout I did with Dr. Carmen Coleman. While serving as superintendent of Danville schools in Kentucky she implemented project based learning across the district. In our Hangout we talk about PBL and authentic assessment.


Finally I wanted to share a great video by another High Tech High art teacher I met named Jeff Robin entitled “What Project Based Learning Isn’t“. I can’t embed it here but it’s still worth a watch!

This week we’re into reverse instruction, game based learning, and PLAY!! I’m looking forward to seeing what you are all blogging about!

On a different note good luck to those job hunting this week!

Presentations From Learning2

Hello all! I was lucky enough to meet a few of you at the Learning2 conference this past week(end) in Ho Chi Minh City. I hope those of you who were not able to attend were able to follow along on social media. During the conference I saw that the Learning2 hashtag was trending in Malaysia and Singapore… how cool!

We always have really good Learning2 Leader talks and this year was no exception. Please take a moment to watch a few with and eye for the concepts and skills we have been learning about in Course 3. Let us know which one resonated with you the most!

Digital Storytelling

From Dave Lieber via Vimeo

From Dave Lieber via Vimeo

Howdy all… I haven’t been able to get to many of your recent posts as I was at an Apple Leadership Camp in Singapore the last part of last week through Sunday. (Who has a camp on Sunday!) If it’s one company that understands the importance of design… it’s Apple! I’m not sure if you’ve watched or attended an Apple event but they always have very high quality video pieces they use throughout their presentations. This event was no different. All in all it was a great event.

It was a nice reminder of the power of visuals and just how powerful digital storytelling can be. It was also a nice reminder of how attention to detail can really elevate the user experience. The thing with video… editing it can take sooooo loooooonnnnggg! But, the silver lining is that the more you do it the quicker you become at it. Case in point…. at the beginning of the year the Elementary leadership came to ask me one day after school if I would put together a video of students discussing why they love NIST so much. They wanted to show it at Back to School night… which was the next night! I had to get the footage, edit the footage, create the intros & outros, add parent comments, and mash it all together in way that made sense… all in the next school day! If they would have asked me a couple years ago to do all that in one day there is no way I could have done it. But since I’ve been working with video a bit over the past couple years I knew enough to get through it in a timely manner. The students were a hit!

So… it may take you a long time to work with video now… but you do get faster with practice!

Peter Alfred Hess via Flickr

Peter Alfred Hess via Flickr- It can be frustrating… don’t give up!

There are many mediums in addition to video with which you and/or your students can use tell a story. You just have to find the one that works for you. I’ve used many over the years in various projects with varying success. I mostly find the tools that have few features, but do them well, are the best to use with students.

**Does anyone have any tips, tricks, or things they’ve picked up along they way that they would like to share?

I’m looking forward to catching up with your posts later this week!

Visual Literacy… it shouldn’t be a mystery!


I hope you are all enjoying the content of this course. I know I sure do! There are so many layers to unravel with visual literacy. For me, this has historically been an area that I have focused on to try and improve. I am much more intentional than I used to be when utilizing visuals and I work hard to try and clearly link the message with what is being visually presented.

In the past ~2 years I’ve been lucky to have done a lot of presenting in front of groups (I still get super nervous though!) and so I’ve had the opportunity to practice the skills we cover in this course over and over. Another bonus is that I’ve been able to work with great presenters so I am able to learn form them. One of the reasons I’m such a big fan of collaboration is that I get to learn from whomever I’m collaborating with! Even after working at this for a couple years I’m still learning about new facets of visual literacy… the world of fonts is still an enigma!

I’ve been having a running conversation with a couple people recently about how more and more teachers are becoming “designers of learning experiences”. The internet has  given us an endless resource bank to draw from… but how we utlize and arrange these resources is vitally important. I suppose the same can be said for students… if we truly give them agency and autonomy they should be constructing their learning experience as well. (A heavy nod to Constructivism.. and Constructionism as well.)

design-secretes-revealedSome very cool resources I wanted to share from fellow teachers. Design Secrets Revealed by Keri-Lee Beasley is a very cool interactive iBook designed to help students and teachers understand the basic elements of design. It’s written in student friendly language and uses examples straight from the classroom. Keri-Lee focuses on the four basic principles of design; contrast, alignment, repetition and proximity with the intent of helping students better communicate their message with their intended audience.


Another very cool teacher created resource is Stories Through the Lens by David Caleb. This books is designed as resource for teachers and students to help them use an iPod/iPad/iPhone camera to capture images and video to tell powerful stories. Dave is a passionate and highly skilled photographer. However, the content in his book is very accessible and is presented in a way that allows readers to start improving their skills right away!

Both Dave and Keri-Lee have authored several other useful teaching centered iBooks. You should check them out in the iBook Store when you have a moment. It’s always cool when teachers make such cool resources for other teachers… for free!

Alright… get to it!

Blogging away in Course 3…

Just a quick note to say that many of you are blogging away in Course 3! This is great to see. I encourage you all to stay on top of your posts for a couple reasons. First and foremost it helps you to reflect on what you are learning about! It also allows your fellow cohort members to gain an understanding of the content from an alternative viewpoint. Getting posts up in a timely manner also allows your fellow cohort members to give you timely, insightful, and relevant feedback. Lastly it allows me to dedicate the time I need to read your posts without having to rush. This in turn gives me the time to provide you with adequate and (hopefully!) helpful feedback.

That’s it for now… sort of a boring housekeeping post… but more to come soon!

Course 3 Here We Go!

Alright COETAIL’ers! Here we are at the start of Course 3. I hope everyone had an awesome summer. I pretty much spent the summer working and moving. I worked up until a week before we moved to BKK and started working a week after arriving. We spent the first week locating a place to live. We were successful in finding a place but weren’t able to move in for three more weeks! We’re happy to be settling in now though. :-)


I walk along this canal to get to school.

I walk along this canal to get to school.


I’m off an running with the school year as I’m sure you are! As I mentioned before it feels great to be back in the P-12 world! Digging my new position as a Digital Literacy Coach here at NIST. One bonus of my position is I get to see my two boys sporadically throughout the day as I move around the elementary school.


Students visiting the MakerSpace on an inquiry walk.

Students visiting the MakerSpace on an inquiry walk.


I’m excited to get into Course 3 as it was one of my favorite courses when I went through COETAIL. I think it’s becuase I was so deficient in many of the concepts covered… visual literacy, presentation design, digital story telling, infographics etc. With communication being spread across so many different mediums now having an understanding of these areas is extremely beneficial. Especially as we move from consumer to creators!

Alright that’s it for now.

Call to Action

Please reply here to let us know a little about your summer and what you are looking forward to in Course 3.